Black officer sues Kentucky police department over firing

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — A former Kentucky officer who was fired from the Lexington Police department is alleging in a lawsuit that a culture of racial discrimination plagues the department and contributed to his dismissal.

Jervis Middleton, who is Black, was fired in February after being accused of providing information to racial injustice protesters in Lexington. The city had small but daily protests in the wake of the police killings of George Floyd in Minnesota and Breonna Taylor in Louisville. Middleton was fired by the city council on two counts of violating department orders, The Lexington Herald-Leader reported. He is appealing his termination. The lawsuit filed Friday in Lexington was brought by Sam Aguiar, one of the lawyers for the Taylor family, which reached a $12 million wrongful death settlement with the city of Louisville.

“Jervis, while employed with LPD, was subjected to a hostile work environment in which unwelcomed racial harassment towards him and throughout the department was repeated and pervasive,” the lawsuit alleges. Lexington Police said it has a policy of not commenting on pending lawsuits. The lawsuit alleges the department was a hostile work environment, that Middleton was retaliated against for supporting Black Lives Matter and that errors were made in the administrative charges against Middleton. The lawsuit said Middleton was singled out for termination because of his race while white officers accused of much graver offenses continue to work for the department.

Middleton’s lawsuit alleges a long history of disparate treatment of white and Black officers.

Some of those allegations include that an officer told Middleton to turn his “black a(asterisk)(asterisk) face around,” and that he was repeatedly referred to as the “token” officer and pet of the police chief.

Police officials have said they obtained communications between Middelton and an activist by obtaining a warrant for her phone and social media pages after she was arrested while walking to her car after a protest.

Middleton said any information he passed along to the activist was largely public information. Some of the information was about officers who had been previously accused of misconduct.

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